You are here

racial justice

Diversity in California’s Clean Energy Workforce: Access to Jobs for Disadvantaged Workers in Renewable Energy Construction

By Nikki Luke, Carol Zabin, Dalia Velasco and Robert Collier - UC Labor Center, August 31, 2017

Executive Summary

Over the past decade California has emerged as a national and international leader in vigorously addressing climate change. Throughout this time one of the state’s key challenges has been to ensure that the “green jobs” being created in the clean energy boom not only have good pay and benefits but also are equitably distributed across the labor force. This report analyzes the degree to which California’s underrepresented and disadvantaged workers have been able to gain access to career-track jobs in the construction of renewable energy power plants. The growth of renewable energy has been and continues to be a key element of California’s climate efforts: policy-makers are now considering SB 100, which sets a goal of procuring 60 percent of the state’s electricity from renewables by 2030 and 100 percent from zero-carbon sources by 2045.

In California, the construction of renewable energy power plants has primarily been carried out under collective bargaining agreements, known as project labor agreements, which entail the utilization of the state-certified apprenticeship system. Apprenticeship allows entry-level, unskilled workers to obtain free training, a job, and a defined path toward a middle-class career. Until now, little information had been available to assess the extent to which disadvantaged communities are able to access this opportunity.

This paper uses two data sources on entry-level workers in renewable energy construction. First, we use data provided by the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS) on enrollment in the apprenticeship programs of three principal skilled trades unions (Electricians, Ironworkers, and Operating Engineers) that have built renewable power plants in California from 2002 through part of 2017. The second set of data comes from Local 428 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and concerns workers who built 27 solar farms in Kern County, totaling almost 2,000 megawatts (MW) of capacity between 2013 and 2017, which amounts to about 25 percent of the solar PV power plants installed in the state during this period.

Climate Movement to May Day Strikers: "We've Got Your Back"

By Deirdre Fulton - Common Dreams, April 27, 2017

Just as labor leaders are standing firmly behind this Saturday's national climate mobilization, the environmental movement has declared its support for workers who plan to strike as part of Monday's May Day demonstrations.

May 1st, International Workers Day, will see rallies, marches, and strikes around the country and the world; in the United States, acts of civil disobedience, work stoppages, and boycotts will target the Trump administration and support immigrants who have experienced an increase in raids and racist rhetoric since the election of President Donald Trump.

"May 1st is the first step in a series of strikes and boycotts that will change the conversation on immigration in the United States," said Maria Fernanda Cabello, a spokesperson from Movimiento Cosecha, which is part of a coalition organizing the actions. "We believe that when the country recognizes it depends on immigrant labor to function, we will win permanent protection from deportation for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, the right to travel freely to visit our loved ones abroad, and the right to be treated with dignity and respect."

An open letter signed this week by more than 80 environmental and climate justice groups recognizes that these demands and those of green groups have many points of intersection. 

"Today, workers face unprecedented attacks on wages, benefits, workplace safety, and the right to organize free from fear and retaliation," reads the letter, whose signatories include 350.org, Greenpeace, Rising Tide North America, and the Sierra Club. "But we know that we are all stronger when workers in our communities have safe, fair, and dignified employment with which they can support their families without fear of deportation or violence."

What's more, the letter continues:

The effects of our fossil fuel economy fall first and worst on working class communities, communities of color, immigrants, and Indigenous peoples who have not only contributed the least to climate disruption, but have the least resources to shoulder the burden of a transition to a new, climate-friendly economy. It is these frontline communities who are also at the forefront of change and whose solutions and leadership we most need.

[...] As environmental and climate justice organizations, we support workers who choose to walk off their jobs on May 1st because we know that the fight to protect land, water, air and soil is inseparable from the fight to protect the life and dignity of workers, migrants, and communities of color.

This language dovetails with that of Mary Kay Henry, international president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), who declared Wednesday, "Every day SEIU members and our communities experience the impact of toxic pollution in our air and water and the catastrophic impacts from climate change that are made worse from this pollution."

Of Saturday's Peoples Climate March, Henry said: "We march because we are on the frontlines. As working people, people of color, and immigrants, we march because our families are disproportionately hardest hit by pollution and climate change's impacts. We march because as service and care workers we are on the frontlines of caring for and responding to impacted families and communities."

The letter from eco- and climate-justice groups calls on employers not to retaliate against workers who choose to go on strike, and pledges to defend workers who face retaliation.

SF Rally/Press Conference Against Racist Hanging Noose At SF Recology

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Enough Is Enough! - Stop Racist Noose Incidents & Workplace Bullying At SF Recology

Monday July 27, 2015 12:00 Noon
Recology Company 501 Tunnel Avenue, SF

Daryle Washington, an IBT 350 member and worker at the Recology Company in San Francisco  has faced a hanging noose and other racist attacks at the Recology Company. For speaking up against these assaults Washington faced retaliation and workplace  bullying  when he blew the whistle on these racist incidents against him and other workers at the facility.
We call for Recology to immediately take action to stop these incidents and end the retaliation against Daryle Washington.

Other workers and trade unionists will be speaking out against the continuing hanging noose incidents and also the epidemic of workplace bullying.

Sponsored by

For information contact info [at] upwa.info | (415)282-1908

Background Information

Endorsed by Michelle Smith, Bully Free Workplace, Derrick Boutte, James Charas, Harold Fong, Brenda Barros, Daz Lamparas, Carrie Clark

EcoUnionist News #18

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, January 6, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Story:

Railroad Workers, Safety, and the Environment:

Black Lives Matter:

Other News of Interest:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC

We pay inmates $3 a day to fight California wildfires

By Brenton Mock - Grist, November 3, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

I recently heard a story told by the actor/activist Harry Belafonte about meeting with Martin Luther King back in the ’60s, shortly after the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were signed. King was not in a celebratory mood, said Belafonte, and seemed to be rethinking his stance on racial integration. They were both contemplating the question asked by James Baldwin from The Fire Next Time: What if we just helped integrate black people into a burning house? Belafonte said King thought long on this before responding, “I guess we’ll just have to be firefighters.”

Demetrius Barr, the central character of Amanda Chicago Lewis’s incredible new BuzzFeed article, “The Prisoners Fighting California’s Wildfires,” is an accidental firefighter. He’s an African-American man from Los Angeles serving time in California for selling crack, and he has enlisted in a “fire camp,” a program created to train inmates to fight the state’s growing wildfire problem. The fire crisis is almost certainly a consequence of climate change, and faced with quickly dwindling funds for handling it, the state has turned to prison labor as a cheap way to meet the need. Here’s the math from Lewis’ story:

About half of the people fighting wildland fires on the ground for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) are incarcerated: over 4,400 prisoners, housed at 42 inmate fire camps, including three for women. Together, says Capt. Jorge Santana, the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) liaison who supervises the camps, they save the state over $1 billion a year. This year, California has had over 5,300 wildfires, which is about 700 more than had occurred by this time in 2013, and a thousand more than the five-year average. Now, as the West is coming to the end of one of the driest, hottest years in recorded history, the work of inmate firefighters has become essential to California’s financial and environmental health.

Problems abound in this Prison Environmental Complex, but one I want to pick at is the idea expressed throughout the story that programs like this help “rehabilitate” men who are presumably otherwise unsalvageable.

Confronting White Privilege In The Climate Justice Movement

Article by Dennis Trainor Jr; Image By John Minchillo - Acronym TV, October 1, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Speaking at the opening plenary of the New York City Global Climate Convergence in the days before the People’s Climate March, Nastaran Mohit told the assembled crowd that the revolution “and this (Climate Convergence) movement is not going to be spawned from the activist white community. It is going to be led front and center by marginalized and the most directly affected communities.”

Mohit, a New York City based labor organizer who was instrumental in the success of Occupy Sandy, went on:

“For these communities, Climate Change is not a far off thing, it is right at their backyard. For these communities it is an issue of survival. Climate organizing is not a privilege for them, it is a life and death matter.”

While Mohit characterized the People’s Climate March as an “epic event” that she was “proud to participate in” she was quick to balance that excitement with skepticism over the funding behind the march and “the lack of demands, the parade route” (the parade went no where near the U.N.).

“We also need to be very real when we talk about how scary it is for the big green groups (and) the big corporations for this movement to challenge Capitalism.”

Greenwash: Nativists, Environmentalism and the Hypocrisy of Hate

By Mark Potok - Southern Poverty Law Center, July 2010

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

A quarter of a century ago, John Tanton, a white nationalist who would go on to almost single-handedly construct the contemporary, hard-line anti-immigration movement, wrote about his secret desire to bring the Sierra Club, the nation's largest environmental organization, into the nativist fold. He spelled out his motive clearly: Using an organization perceived by the public as part of the liberal left would insulate nativists from charges of racism — charges that, given the explicitly pro-"European-American" advocacy of Tanton and many of his allies over the years, would likely otherwise stick.

In the ensuing decades, nativist forces followed Tanton's script, making several attempts to win over the Sierra Club and its hundreds of thousands of members. That effort culminated in 2004, when nativists mounted a serious effort to take over the Sierra Club's board of directors, an attempt that was beaten back only after a strenuous campaign by Sierra Club members and groups including the Southern Poverty Law Center. The attempt was a classic case of "greenwashing" — a cynical effort by nativist activists to seduce environmentalists to join their cause for purely strategic reasons.

Now, the greenwashers are back. In the last few years, right-wing groups have paid to run expensive advertisements in liberal publications that explicitly call on environmentalists and other "progressives" to join their anti-immigration cause. They've created an organization called Progressives for Immigration Reform that purports to represent liberals who believe immigration must be radically curtailed in order to preserve the American environment. They've constructed websites accusing immigrants of being responsible for urban sprawl, traffic congestion, overconsumption and a host of other environmental evils. Time and again, they have suggested that immigration is the most important issue for conservationists.

QUELLING DISSENT: How the Big Greens Contain & Dissolve Resistance

By Kat Yang Stevens - groundworkforpraxis.com, August 29, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

[image description: Black frame with a white frame inside it. Inside the white frame are two teal "boxes", one rectangular shaped on the left, a square on the right. The left rectangular box contains grayscale images of Maura Cowley (executive director at Energy Action Coalition), Michael Brune (executive director at Sierra Club), and Bill McKibben (co-founder of 350.org). In front of Cowley you can see the tops of two microphones. Written vertically on the right hand side of that box in white letters it reads, "DISMANTLE THE NGOS". To the right in the teal square shaped "box" it reads in white letters, "QUELLING DISSENT: How The Big Greens Contain & Dissolve Resistance" under that in black letters it reads, "by kat yang-stevens". Below that the text reads, "excerpts appeared previously in issue #113 of" with the logo for the magazine, Adbusters appearing next to that text.] // image credit: Adbusters //  Why Use Image Descriptions?

We are living in an age of unparalleled destruction. The prevailing colonialist capitalist order is forcing humanity to a state of near-total estrangement from the natural world. The earth can no longer sustain the parasitic extractive industry, which is fueled by the unending growth that capitalism demands. As we surpass the apex of the age of fossil fuels, the global elite is desperate to maintain power and control in the face of inevitable, rapidly-approaching economic collapse. They will continue to attempt to maintain the current conditions they have created, in which the incessant pursuit of the luxuries of modernity has reduced the earth and Indigenous peoples worldwide to being viewed as commodities that exist simply to provide “resources” for civil society. They will continue to deploy one of their biggest tools to quell dissent to these conditions: big “green” non-governmental organizations [NGOs].


Within the colonial borders of the US, more and more communities are feeling the direct effects of environmentally degrading industrial facilities and extractive industries. In a blatant act of cultural genocide, the city of Flagstaff, AZ recently committed 3.6 billion gallons of treated sewage water for snowmaking at the Snowbowl ski resort that sits on a mountain sacred to over 13 indigenous nations, including the Dine’ (Navajo), Hopi, Zuni, Haulapai, Havasupai, Yavapai-Apache, Yavapai-Prescott, Tonto Apache, White Mountain Apache, San Carlos, Apache, San Juan Southern Paiute, Fort Mcdowell Mohave Apache, Acoma and Tohono o’odham. Klee Benally, a Dine’ volunteer with Protect The Peaks, says the project is “incredibly offensive, unsustainable and ultimately irresponsible considering the escalating water crisis we’re facing in the Southwest.” In Chester, PA, five large waste facilities, including a Convanta incinerator – the largest in the country, processing over 3,500 tons of trash a day – have led to an asthma crisis in the majority black community. 5.6 million tons of New York City waste has already been burned in Chester, and according to the Chester Environmental Justice Facebook page, on August 13, 2014 the Chester city council approved a plan that will bring 30 years worth of trash from NYC by rail to Chester.

Frontline community organizers like Yudith Nieto with the group Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (T.E.J.A.S.), based in the East End of Houston, TX, have described the conditions of their mostly Latina and Xicana communities as a “living example of environmental racism.” There are hundreds of thousands of people who are living fenceline to industry and being poisoned mercilessly with little to no intervention from the Environmental Protection Agency. People there are engaged in a battle against tar sands, as their communities sit at one of the terminus points of TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline – the other terminus point is in the predominantly African-American community of Port Arthur, TX. Just over the artificially imposed border between the US and Canada lies the Aamjiwnaang First Nation Reservation, which borders the city of Sarnia in Ontario – this area is also known as “Chemical Valley”. According to a 2011 World Health Organization study, the area is plagued with the most polluted air in settler colonial “Canada”. Communities there have been waging opposition to tar sands as the Enbridge corporation prepares to finish a project that will allow Line 9 to transport tar sands. Both communities are surrounded by smokestacks and being forced to breathe the poisonous byproducts of refineries and petrochemical plants, many of them owned by corporations heavily invested in the exploitation of tar sands and fracked gas as well as the construction of new pipelines to transport the toxic products. Both communities are engaged in grassroots community-led organizing and resistance to the presence of these industries. (For more on indigenous resistance to tar sands, see the short film “Kahsatstenhsera” produced by Amanda Lickers of Reclaim Turtle Island.)

The Class Politics of Pipeline Resistance

By Umair Muhammad - Briar Patch Magazine, August 25, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The Jane-Finch community is among the many neighbourhoods in Toronto that Enbridge’s Line 9 runs through. Standing at the geograph­ical margins of the city, Jane-Finch is a low-income, racialized community that faces many challenges, including chronic unemployment and underemployment, targeted policing, and substandard housing. Not surprisingly, the community is routinely stereotyped and vilified. It also happens to be a hotbed of activism.

Line 9 currently carries conventional oil from Montreal to southern Ontario but is slated to transport bulkier Alberta tarsands oil and less stable Bakken crude oil in the opposite direction. The proposal to reverse the flow of the 38-year-old pipeline has been the subject of significant activism across Ontario. The fact that Enbridge’s proposal was approved by the National Energy Board without there being an environmental assessment has also generated concern. Errol Young of Jane-Finch Action Against Poverty says: “The Line 9 reversal adds to the environmental concerns faced by the community, including tank farms [oil depots] that create air pollution and result in a constant movement of giant trucks carrying gasoline on our roads.” The prospect of a spill is highly distressing as the pipeline passes close to homes, shopping malls, schools, health centres, and a subway line under construction.

The potential environmental harm connected to the pipeline is not limited to the local perspective, however. The climate crisis, which is fuelled by projects like the Line 9 reversal, also concerns Jane-Finch residents. And climate change, now experienced in the form of increasingly powerful storms, droughts, and floods around the planet, can feel very close to home. Extreme weather events like last year’s devastating Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines routinely strike countries to which residents of Jane-Finch have intimate ties.

Despite the concerns about the pipeline that exist in Jane-Finch, it’s been tough to build links between the community and the anti-Line 9 work being done elsewhere in Toronto. It has been challenging, for instance, to convince community activists to attend meetings and events about Line 9 that take place outside of Jane-Finch. This is in part because Jane-Finch activists are busy organizing around multiple issues – including ever-impending cuts to the social safety net – that have immediate impact. To a significant extent, however, the difficulty in building links arises from differing terms of engagement with en­vironmental issues.

Notes on Ferguson, Extractivism, and Global Revolt

By Alexander Reid Ross - Earth First! Newswire, August 26, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Force of Gentrification

Unfortunately, when talking about Ferguson, few people are really talking about gentrification. And if we can’t say gentrification and Ferguson in the same breath, we can’t look at the bigger problems. The murder of an unarmed black teenager? How about the racialized murder of civil society by the police state and the ongoing destruction of the world that it is bringing about?

These things may seem fragmented, but they are all connected. It’s necessary to look at them separately before they start to make sense together. Through the tear gas, pepper spray, and smoke, the home invasions, church trespassing, and illegal arrests, the police state is creating a toxic breeding ground that could happen anywhere. It is becoming a model for domestic military response to fast-growing insurrection.

Ferguson was a small town on the outskirts of St. Louis until the 1950s. When the US industry boom occurred after World War II, rapid urbanization ensued. Towns like Ferguson would double in population size between 1950 and 1960, and then double again between 1960 and 1970. But then something happened. We call it neoliberalism, but might as well call it good old fashioned colonialism.

The industrial economy was kneecapped by the State, and nothing was put up in its place to break the fall, except the prison industry and “urban renewal.” Towns like Furgeson started declining in population, but another phenomenon emerged: the racial switch. As gentrification slammed communities of color in St. Louis during the 1990s and 2000s, Furgeson went from 73 percent white to 67 percent African American. One of the hardest hit areas in the whole country, the Washington Ave “Historic District” designation saw the white share of the population of Zip Code 63101 in St. Louis rocket from 28 percent to nearly 50 percent between 2000 and 2010.

Today, Ferguson is the 19th most rapidly gentrifying city in the US—after being the “shatter zone” for people of color being pushed out of other urban areas, the population of Ferguson is being pushed out again. Police practices of persecuting the poor—such as convicting people in closed-session court, giving them large fines, and then locking them up when they can’t pay—are plentiful in Ferguson, and the police openly discriminate on the basis of color.

The police force in Ferguson has become notorious for its outlandishly racist policies, such that some might say that the racism of the Ferguson police we have seen over the past two weeks is worthy of the Third Reich. But this is Missouri, the state that the St. Louis coordinator of the NAACP calls “the most racist state” in the US. We have our own history to contend with here in the US of Amerikkka.

Pages

The Fine Print I:

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) unless otherwise indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s, nor should it be assumed that any of these authors automatically support the IWW or endorse any of its positions.

Further: the inclusion of a link on our site (other than the link to the main IWW site) does not imply endorsement by or an alliance with the IWW. These sites have been chosen by our members due to their perceived relevance to the IWW EUC and are included here for informational purposes only. If you have any suggestions or comments on any of the links included (or not included) above, please contact us.

The Fine Print II:

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc.

It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.